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Quo Vadis? Alternative cities offer something for the jaded palette

Wither thou goest? There’s not much that will get me out on a freezing January night. Apart from some rather good nosh and lively conversation about alternative cities.

So I was delighted to be invited to moderate a round table at Mossiman’s in Mayfair London, which was sponsored by Trafo Halle Baden. There to welcome us was Reto Leder, Trafo Baden’s CEO to give us a whistlestop tour of what the Swiss location has to offer.

In between mouthfuls of wild game terrine and a quince chutney, we discussed alternative cities and venues. Access it still king, it seems. The major cities such as London, Paris and Zurich are still favoured. Delegate times are getting shorter, and the chance to stay on in a destination for an extra day or two is a bit of a luxury.

But times are a-changing. There’s the boredom factor, where delegates are wanting to go somewhere new. I asked Livio Goetz, head of Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau (SCIB), if there was any pressure to suggest Zurich over other destinations. But he said he was under pressure from more than 20 alternative venues in Switzerland, all clamouring for their bite of the cherry – and he does suggest trying other locations. Good for Livio!

Sustainability is a major trend, but in reality, the bottom line is budgets, and there were some nods around the table that there is a tendency to just pay lip service.

This was strenuously denied by Silke Klassen, training manager at World Nuclear University. She said that many event organisers are prepared to pay over the odds for sustainability. While I was chowing down on a very tender seared fillet of English beef, I wondered how much we really care about the future of our planet, when it’s not seen as a particularly high priority in the meetings and events world. Certainly, the BMEIS survey shows that green issues are pretty low on the agenda for many.

I did bring up the dreaded ‘B’ word, over which there was some polite chuckling. But raising the spectre of Brexit raised no ire. Instead, the common consent was “business as usual”. Then it was down to snaffling a dessert of peppered pineapple with crème de cacao sauce and vanilla ice cream.

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